1. In Memory of LAJ_FETT: Please share your remembrances and condolences HERE

Before - Legends Before the Saga The Ground Quakes and Trembles (Qui-Gon Jinn's Diary for the Half-Marathon DDC 2021)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by devilinthedetails , Jan 2, 2021.

  1. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Fiendish Fanfic & SWTV Manager, Interim Tech Admin star 6 Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 19, 2019
    Title: The Ground Quakes and Trembles

    Author: devilinthedetails

    Characters: Qui-Gon Juin; Dooku; Tahl (Legends Jedi Apprentice character); Clee Rhara (Legends Jedi Apprentice and Jedi Quest character); Yoda; OC's.

    Genre: General; Action; Adventure; Friendship; Drama.

    Timeline: Many years before TPM when Qui-Gon is Dooku's Padawan. Written more in the Legends continuity with characters from the Jedi Apprentice books.

    Summary: Jedi Padawan Qui-Gon Jinn's diary keeps his feet firmly planted even when the ground quakes and trembles beneath his boots both literally and figuratively because isn't adolescence fun?

    Author's Note: Written for the Half-Marathon DDC 2021 Challenge.

    Dear Diary,

    You might be wondering who I am. At least, you’d be wondering that if you were sentient, and for the sake of my sanity, I’m going to pretend that you are sentient and treat you as such. So, as I say, you might be wondering who I am.

    Fear not, I shall enlighten you. I am Jedi Padawan Qui-Gon Jinn, but you can just call me Qui-Gon. Everyone else does. Except the Masters when they are angry at me for breaking another Jedi rule I didn’t realize was so sacrosanct until I violated it (whoops), but you aren’t so uptight as all that and won’t get vexed at me over trivialities, so you can just call me Qui-Gon as I said.

    I am also, according to my personal Jedi Master Dooku, entirely too clingy--too emotionally dependent on his attention, approval, and affection.

    I know because he told me that in blunt fashion, not mincing his words for my benefit at all as we stood on one of the many Temple balconies at night, staring out at the stars that were dimmed in comparison with the bright lights of advertisements for products nobody actually wanted and stratosphere-piercing skytowers and superskytowers.

    “Tell me, Qui-Gon, are you a Jedi Padawan or a Kowakian monkey-lizard?” Dooku asked without warning, arching an eyebrow at me.

    “A Jedi Padawan, of course, Master,” I replied, nonplussed. Jedi riddles are always so baffling and bizarre. If I had a credit for every strange Jedi aphorism I heard growing up in the Temple, I’d be the richest man on Coruscant, and that’s saying something, since Coruscant is home to many of the richest people in the galaxy. Eighty of the one hundred wealthiest trillionaires according to the rankings of most economic publications in fact but that is mere trivia for the Jedi Archivists.

    “Then why do you cling to me so?” My master’s words hurt like a slap on the face. A rejection. A proclamation that I wasn’t wanted or needed in any way by the man I tried so hard to serve and please.

    “Because you’re my Master.” I tried and probably failed to speak with dignity through a tightening throat. At least I managed not to cry. I could be proud of myself for that.

    “Exactly.” Master Dooku’s lips were thin, and every syllable cut like a vibro-razor’s edge. “I’m your Master and you’re my Padawan. My role is to instruct you, not to provide you with constant attention, approval, and affection. I’m to be your teacher, not your parent or your companion--and certainly not your friend.”

    I wondered if Master Dooku even had any friends. He never seemed to share a special bond with any of the Jedi he sparred with in the dojos or researched with in the Jedi Archives. Those Jedi were an ever-shifting, inconstant cast of characters in the drama that was Master Dooku’s life, and he appeared to only see them as means to the end of increasing his knowledge or skill as a Jedi. During meals, he preferred to dine alone when other Jedi might have taken the opportunity to sit with friends.

    It was on the tip of my tongue to ask if Master Dooku did have friends that I had never seen or met, but I bit the question back before it could escape from my lips and be labeled as impertinent by my very austere and severe Master.

    Instead, I said in a dull, flat, toneless voice the robotic reply I knew he wanted from me, the response devoid of any emotion: “Yes, Master. I’ll try to be less dependent on your attention, approval, and affection.”

    It felt degrading to say such things about myself, but then we Jedi are called to be humble, aren’t we?

    “Good. You must understand that I only point such a thing out for your own good.” Master Dooku reached out to clasp my shoulder, and I thought that was the worst part of being his Padawan. He would say something cold and withering--something that left my soul crushed inside me--and then follow it up with some gesture of affection or declaration that his words were only spoken for my benefit. It was so confusing and the mixed messages overwhelmed me. “It is unwise for any Jedi---for anyone, in fact--to be too dependent on the approval, affection, or attention of any other sentient in the galaxy. We are all alone in the galaxy and must conduct ourselves as independent beings or we will be destroyed by those on whom we make ourselves dependent. That is the teaching and caution behind the Jedi principle of non-attachment. Meditate on what this truly means, understand it, and free yourself from any tethering attachments that could be your downfall.”

    Master Dooku didn’t require a response to this, and I didn’t give one, because I knew in the hidden corners of my heart where he couldn’t reach that I would never meditate on such a matter. I could never really believe in my blood and my bones that our attachments would destroy us rather than support and sustain us. The Force had always whispered otherwise to me since I was a youngling in the creche. There had never been a time that the Force hadn’t told me on a deep, spiritual level that it was our connections with others that made and transformed us into our best selves.

    I knew Master Dooku didn’t believe this--I knew most Jedi didn’t, for that matter--but I did and that was enough to give me strength on that balcony even if a gnawing worm of doubt inside me did ask myself if other Masters were so rejecting of any bond with their apprentices. If other Masters made their Padawans feel so unwanted and unneeded.

    I’d have to ask my friends Tahl and Clee Rhara who were both Padawans in their own right now, and wouldn’t that be a fun and not at all awkward conversation?
  2. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Happy wriggles, a new diary [face_dancing]

    Dooku is a piece of work and that's no lie. :rolleyes:

    Qui-Gon is such a warm, nurturing person with Obi-Wan and it's a wonder coming from such a partnership; it's fortunate that Qui doesn't believe that attachments are destructive -- they are only if you let them be and not having any is always damaging.

    Last edited: Jan 2, 2021
  3. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Force Ghost star 5

    Dec 21, 2016
    I like. Reading your version of young Qui-Gon, I begin to see very clearly where Obi-Wan learned his sarcasm.
  4. juicepouch

    juicepouch Jedi Padawan star 1

    Dec 13, 2020
    Ooh, really excited for this. I'm glad to see Qui-Gon maintaining who he is in the face of Dooku being detached and... well, Dooku. Can't wait to see his interactions with Tahl and friends!
  5. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Chosen One star 6

    Jun 14, 2005
    A diary showing a young Qui-Gon. Thank you! I hope I will be able to follow it on a regular basis. This seems like a precious gem. Especially since you write the young jedi in such warm, vivid colours, always being on the positive side.
  6. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Fiendish Fanfic & SWTV Manager, Interim Tech Admin star 6 Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 19, 2019
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Thank you so much for commenting, as always:)It's exciting to start a new diary and to have the chance to write about a young Qui-Gon since I almost always write about him when he is older so this is a great way to change things up for me. Piece of work definitely describes Dooku. I picture him as very aloof and exacting with Qui-Gon and unwilling to offer any sort of emotional support. Just very cold and not warm like Qui-Gon will later be with Obi-Wan. I think Qui-Gon will want to be a very different sort of Master than Dooku and I don't think Qui-Gon will ever believe that relationships are inherently destructive. Instead, I think he'll be more inclined to see the nourishing side of them. How they can be a comfort to people and a source of strength especially when they are healthy relationships. So I think part of Qui-Gon's struggle will be his desire for healthy relationships being labeled as "clingy" and whatnot by Dooku who doesn't really want any relationships at all.

    @Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Thank you so much for commenting!:)I'm so glad that you like my version of a young Qui-Gon, and I do think that Obi-Wan must have learned some sarcasm from Qui-Gon, and that Qui-Gon must've been okay with Obi-Wan's sarcasm most of the time, since Obi-Wan's sarcasm development doesn't seem to have been stifled in any way[face_laugh]So the fine art of sarcasm can be passed from Master to apprentice generation after generation...

    @juicepouch Thank you so much for commenting!:)So glad that you're excited for this diary, and I hope it can live up to your expectations! I think Qui-Gon will continue to find ways to keep being himself in the face of Dooku being detached and severe because I think Qui-Gon is the type to be true to himself and his principles no matter the opposition he encounters. He has that quiet confidence and resolution about him even as a Padawan in my head canon. You'll get to see more interactions with Tahl and his friends in this upcoming chapter, so I hope you enjoy them.

    @AzureAngel2 Thank you so much for commenting!:) So far I'm really enjoying the process of writing this diary of a young Qui-Gon. It's been a real treat to write so far, and I hope you'll continue to find it to be a gem and appreciate how it portrays the Jedi who have always been my favorite part of Star Wars[face_love]

    Dear Diary,

    I sat on the floor of Clee Rhara’s sleeping quarters amidst a heap of clothes and supplies she was preparing to pack for her latest mission to I-Still-Didn’t-Know-Where.

    “Have either of you ever been accused of being too clingy by your Masters?” I asked. The words came out extremely awkwardly as I had predicted they would, but I was sure if I didn’t find the courage to speak them now, I never would, and I had to know if it was only my Master who perceived his Padawan as an unnecessary adendage he was forced to drag around or if it was some more universal sentiment among the Jedi. I had to try to understand my Master even if he never seemed inclined to want to understand me. I’d put in the work and the time to try to make our relationship work even if he didn’t.

    “Too clingy? No.” Clee Rhara gave a cheerful shake of her head, sunset orange hair whipping from side to side. No amount of doom and gloom could dampen her upbeat spirit. She was precocious and charismatic. People came alive in her presence. They loved being around her. They never would have thought her clingy. “Too impulsive and impatient? Every day of the week.”

    “Nobody’s ever accused me of being too clingy.” Tahl was spread out on the carpet in a languid, almost feline fashion. “I’m a very independent type of girl.”

    “I thought I was the independent type as well.” I frowned, a knot tying in my forehead.

    “You? Independent?” Tahl snorted. “Oh, you try to be independent and act as if you don’t care what others think, but deep down, you want everyone to like you and approve of you. I’m unhampered by that. I’m proud to be a prickly person, and that’s what makes me such an independent one.”

    My frown deepened at Tahl’s remark. In my blissful ignorance of youth, I had imagined that I was independent and didn’t crave anyone’s approval as much as I longed to find my own path and blaze my own trail through the galaxy, but my time as Master Dooku’s Padawan was already proving to me that I didn’t care about the opinions and elusive approval of my fellow Jedi. I was more dependent than I had thought. More dependent than I wanted to be. It was confusing and made me massage my temples in frustration. “Maybe I’m not as independent as I thought. Maybe I do wish to feel needed and wanted by my Master, but I don’t. Do either of you ever feel that way?”

    “Unneeded?” Clee Rhara sounded as if she was considering the question for the first time, which was an answer in itself. Her Master didn’t make her feel unneeded and unwanted. That was why the issue had never occurred to her until I raised it. “Well, I suppose my Master managed fine without me for years before I was even born, but I think I’ve found ways to make myself useful. I like to be useful. And wanted? I don’t see why my Master would’ve picked me of all the available Padawans if he didn’t want me. He doesn’t like to torture himself that much.”

    “I don’t feel unneeded and unwanted because my Master isn’t a stuffy stick-in-the-swamp like Master Dooku.” Tahl’s green and gold striped eyes rolled. “Your Master is a jerk who doesn’t treat you well. Face it, Qui-Gon.”

    This was a rather too blunt assessment of my situation. It hurt like salt rubbed into a raw wound. It was also too insulting of my Master for me to agree with it. I had to argue. My Master’s honor and my last semblance of pride demanded it. “My Master is not a stick-in-the-swamp.”

    “Liar.” Tahl stuck her tongue out at me.

    I couldn’t deny that without making myself a double liar in her eyes, so instead I turned to Clee Rhara and made a doubtlessly transparent attempt at changing the subject. “Where’s your mission to any way, Clee? You didn’t say.”

    “I didn’t say because it’s not very exciting.” Clee Rhara shrugged as she tossed more items into her duffel bag without regard for any sort of order. Ever since we were younglings in the creche, she had been a delightfully disorganized person. “My Master and I will be flying to some Mid-Rim world, the exact coordinates of which will be uploaded to our ships before we take off from the Temple hangar bay, and serving as glorified chauffeurs for an important witness who must testify before the Senate. A routine mission. Probably won’t even call for any cool flying.”

    Clee Rhara was a gifted pilot, the best among the initiates and Padawans I was convinced, and she had been chosen by a Knight who was a great pilot himself. He was training her to take on the Temple’s most important flying missions. The ones that involved inserting or extracting Jedi and others from dangerous, delicate situations all over the galaxy.

    “I’m sure you’ll be able to practice a few tricks.” Tahl flashed Clee Rhara an impish grin. “Be grateful that at least you’re going on a mission and aren’t rotting at the Temple like me. It feels like it’s been ages since my Master and I went on a mission.”

    “By ages you mean three weeks ago?” I saw the perfect opportunity to tease Tahl and couldn’t resist it.

    “Three weeks is ages to anyone who isn’t Master Yoda.” Tahl wrinkled her nose at me as she drew on the Force to hurl a pillow from Clee Rhara’s sleep couch at my face.

    I ducked it and took my revenge by using the Force to fling a pair of Clee Rhara’s folded socks at Tahl’s head. I hoped they smelled and that Clee Rhara had forgotten to wash them in the Temple’s massive laundry room.

    Tahl giggled as she used the Force to deflect the socks and throw a crinkled tunic in my direction.

    Clee Rhara didn’t seem to be bothered by the way we were tossing her belongings about her quarters, and instead joined in our laughter.

    I was happy to be with my two best friends. Happy to feel needed, wanted, and not clingy at all.
    Kahara likes this.
  7. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    SWEET banter and confiding. Tahl is delightfully outspoken and Clee exuberantly bubbly. Just the kind of pals Qui needs. :D
    Kahara and devilinthedetails like this.
  8. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Force Ghost star 5

    Dec 21, 2016
    Teenager or adult, Tahl is Tahl, and she's fabulous. Now I'm just waiting for Qui-Gon to cause her sufficient annoyance to get himself called a stubborn bantha's ass. :D
  9. juicepouch

    juicepouch Jedi Padawan star 1

    Dec 13, 2020
    Love the synergy between these three! Poor Qui-Gon finding out he isn't exactly who he thought he was - it happens to all of us at some point. Another great entry =D= I'm really enjoying Qui-Gon's voice here
  10. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Fiendish Fanfic & SWTV Manager, Interim Tech Admin star 6 Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 19, 2019
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha As always, thank you so much for commenting!:) I'm so glad that you found the banter and confiding sweet. It was a true joy to write about Qui-Gon and his friendships with Tahl and Clee Rhara in this past entry. Writing Tahl's outspokenness is always a treat, and Clee Rhara's exuberant bubbliness is also very fun to write as well. I think they are perfect pals for Qui-Gon especially when he is feeling down.

    @Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Thank you so much for commenting! :) And you're so right that regardless of whether she is a teenager or an adult, Tahl is always her awesome self and may be prone to annoyance at Qui-Gon's stubbornness...

    @juicepouch Thank you so much for commenting!:)So glad that you loved the synergy between the three friends. Tahl in particular will definitely be making more appearances in this story. I do feel sorry for Qui-Gon finding out that he isn't exactly who he thought he is. Adolesence in particular can be a tough time of discovering and defining oneself and re-discovering and re-defining oneself, so Qui-Gon will definitely experience the turmoil but also the hard-gained rewards and wisdom of that in this dairy. I'm so happy that you found it to be another great entry and that you loved Qui-Gon's voice. Writing from Qui-Gon's perspective has been truly interesting and engaging.

    Author's Note: Somewhat of an internally focused entry centered around meditation, but next entry will contain more action and interaction, I promise.

    Dear Diary,

    You may be wondering why you came to arrive in my story. If that is the case, wonder no more, because this entry will explain why you entered my story. It may seem that the first two entries were all about me and my problems, but in a way, they were also about you, because it was my nature, my situation, and the problems that arose from the confluence of those two factors that made me decide to get you, dear diary.

    I’m getting ahead of myself, though, as can happen when I am too excited. I will start at the beginning: where and why I decided that I should get you.

    I felt alone and as if nobody—not my Master or my closest friends—could understand me, so I tried to find peace in meditation as I had been taught to do since I was a youngling. It may seem counterintuitive to try to find comfort for aloneness by focusing inward as in meditation, but the truth is that meditation is about reaching out to achieve connection and harmony with the external environment and reality as it is about delving deep inside oneself to find elusive inner balance and tranquility. Meditation is both an internal and an external art, revealing hidden truths in the galaxy and within ourselves when practiced by a Jedi in union with the Force.

    My most fulfilling meditations have always taken place in the Room of a Thousand Fountains, so I took a turbolift to to that level. Upon entering that vast chamber filled with cresting waterfalls and bubbling fountains, I was instantly swept into the music of water flowing over rocks.

    I wound my way along a twisting pebbled path shaded by trees native to planets from across the galaxy. Many of the trees would have been given by heads of state in gratitude for missions that brought peace and justice to their worlds. The Jedi who brought such peace and justice as well as the heads of state themselves would likely be long dead by now—few species apart from Master Yoda’s could live for centuries as trees did—but the trees lasted as an enduring legacy of service. A living sign of peace. A green, growing testimony to the justice Jedi were supposed to promote wherever the Force carried them in the wide galaxy like a leaf blown in a storm.

    I came to my favorite waterfall. I watched the water froth white as it cascaded over the rocks, plummeting in sheets into a pool below. I stepped across this pool on a series of stones, the tips of my boots getting wet in the process, but I didn’t care about damp boots or socks even if my Master scolded me for them later. My Master was always scolding me for such sloppiness. He set great store about not appearing disheveled. I cared much more about exploring everything than about appearing perfectly polished at all times, which no doubt contributed to the friction that defined our relationship.

    After I’d crossed the pool, I could see a small cave in the rocks beneath the waterfall. The cave provided a cool, dark place to meditate with the music of the water rushing and dropping over the water as an endless backdrop for contemplation. Folding my legs over each other and pressing my fingers together in a circle—symbol of unity and eternity—on my knees, I listened to the sound of the water and tried to imagine myself swept along the current of time. Floating in the water. At peace in its embrace. Never resisting it.

    Once I felt myself at one with the water and with time, I tried to feel at one with my Master, but I could not. I didn’t understand him because he didn’t understand me and didn’t want to try. That was why I couldn’t talk to him about him making me feel unwanted and rejected like trash dumped into an abandoned dumpster at some Coruscanti construction site.

    I needed a place of refuge where I could share my thoughts and feelings about being unwanted and rejected by my Master. Before I had thought my friends could be that place of refuge—of understanding—but they couldn’t be because they couldn’t truly comprehend what it was like to feel unwanted and rejected by their Masters. Their Masters never made them feel unwanted and rejected, which only made me feel even more unwanted and rejected even if that hadn’t been Tahl and Cle Rhara’s intent.

    I had to find another source of solace—another outlet for my thoughts and feelings so that I could resolve the turmoil teeming inside me. Sometimes in history classes we had learned about the diaries and journals that people had kept. Diaries and journals that could serve as primary sources and insights into the past.

    It occurred to me that there was no reason that I shouldn’t keep a diary, a record of my thoughts and feelings about my life and my apprenticeship. Such a thing wasn’t forbidden for a Padawan and might even be encouraged as a method of increasing reflection and focus.

    In that cave in the Room of a Thousand Fountains, I decided that I would get a diary where I could be honest about my thoughts and feelings. Where my thoughts and feelings would always be understood. Where I would never have to feel rejected, unwanted, or discarded into a dumpster.

    I wouldn’t keep the diary on my datapad. Typing and staring at a blue-tinted screen wouldn’t be as soothing as writing in my own hand in black ink across a blank white page I would gradually feel with my own thoughts and emotions. My own hard-discovered truths.

    That would, of course, require finding an old-fashioned pen and paper notebook, which weren’t exactly sold all over Coruscant. My next challenge would be locating where I could buy such antiquated devices on the galaxy’s most cosmopolitan, aggressively modern planet.
    Kahara likes this.
  11. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Awesome introspection, very natural that even though he felt some relief sharing with friends because they couldn't comprehend the exact nature of being rejected by one's Master, that just made him feel even more different and not in a good way. Keeping a diary is a great solution and writing in a non-techie way would definitely help with reflection and be more private.
    devilinthedetails likes this.
  12. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Fiendish Fanfic & SWTV Manager, Interim Tech Admin star 6 Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 19, 2019
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha As always, thank you so much for commenting! I'm so glad that you found the introspection to be awesome, and I hope that you'll enjoy this next chapter that features a bit more dialogue and action. I think one of the hard things about confiding can sometimes be if the people you are confiding in can't really relate to the situation because they've never been in it (even if they try to relate to it), it can make the person doing the confiding feel even more different in an often negative way. That was sadly what Qui-Gon was feeling in the lat chapter, but I agree that keeping a diary is a great solution, and there can be something extra soothing and inviting of reflection to writing in an old-fashioned journal so that is why I had Qui-Gon gravitate to that method.

    Dear Diary,

    The day after I reached my meditation-inspired decision to procure you as a confidant, I wanted to do research into where I could possibly obtain such an old-fashioned style journal. (I hope you don’t object to the term old-fashioned as in this case, it is meant with respect as a compliment to your enduring, endearing simplicity that has resonated with generations across the centuries and millennia.)

    However, doing so had to wait until after Master Dooku spent much of the morning and afternoon relentlessly drilling me on the proper fighting forms. He seemed to expect perfect technique in every exercise and was quick to point out any flaw if I so much as put a toe out of place or let my finger slide into the wrong spot on my lightsaber hilt. Sweat dampened my forehead and soaked my tunic, but my Master would rarely allow me a break to catch my breath or grab a swift sip of water from my canteen. Even when he permitted me a chance to breathe or drink, it never lasted as long as I would’ve liked. It barely seemed to last a heartbeat or two, and my heart was rabitting in my chest from the exertion.

    My lungs and my chest began to hurt whenever I breathed. Burning lactic acid built up in my legs, making every step and pivot a battle in its own right. Sweat dripped from my forehead into my eyes, stinging them with salt and clouding my vision. My once disciplined form subsided into sloppiness and my Master with his hawk-bat sharp eyes noticed at once.

    “Halt,” he snapped.

    When I did so, glad for the opportunity to rest my body even if I was about to be mercilessly scolded, he demanded, “What is this clumsy, lackadaisical approach to lightsaber fighting, Padawan? It’s not a style taught at the Temple. Certainly not a style I taught you. I’ve only taught you to fight with elegance.”

    Elegance. Master Dooku did everything with elegance. I felt hopelessly ungainly in comparison.

    “I tried my best, Master,” I replied because I couldn’t think of anything else to say even though I knew trying was never enough with the Jedi. Master Yoda seemed to regard all statements of attempted efforts as excuses, admonishing that there was no trying; there was only doing or not doing. A black and white view where I was currently situated solidly on the black side of the line despite my most diligent efforts to be elsewhere. My cynical Master was even more inclined to take a skeptical attitude toward trying if that were possible.

    Apparently it was, because Master Dooku shot me a withering glance that made me feel as if I had been chopped in half with a lightsaber. Bisection might have been preferable to his biting observation, “Your best try looked like a quitter’s try.”

    I didn’t have a clue how to respond to such a remark so I kept my mouth clamped shut and hoped it didn’t tremble. It hurt when Master Dooku spoke like that no matter how much I tried to distance myself from the words and embrace true Jedi serenity. My Master’s words represented a learning opportunity that I should embrace, but it was hard to do so when they cut me to my core.

    “You quit.” My Master’s lips were thin, and I didn’t know if he was pleased or displeased that I had remained silent. “Your training is over for today because you are done learning. Dismissed.”

    He gave an impatient jerk of his hand. Not intending to stick around long enough for him to change his mind and assign me punishment exercises when he was in a foul temper (a path with a signpost that promised misery at the end of it for me), I scooped up my canteen and beat a hasty retreat from the training dojo.

    After leaving the training dojo, I walked down the pillar-lined hallways of the Jedi Temple to the nearest turbolift bank, which I rode to the level where my Master and I lived in our assigned quarters. Upon returning to our quarters, I disappeared into the room where I slept and locked the door behind me as I rarely did.

    Doors to personal sleeping quarters at the Temple came with locks, but such locks were rarely deployed. Jedi both trusted each other not to invade their privacy and had nothing to hide from one another. In such an environment, there was little need for using locks and almost a suspicion attached to doing so, because what mischief or malice must a Jedi be up to in order to require such privacy.

    With my door locked, I changed out of my sweaty robes into a cleaner set of garments. Then I sat down at my desk, opened my datapad, keyed in my password, (locks might have rusted from disuse at the Temple, but passwords were employed on almost every datapad for whatever logically inconsistent reason), and started searching for a shop that could sell me an old-fashioned journal like you, dear diary.

    It was more complicated than I would’ve anticipated to locate such a store. There were shops that sold datapads and stores that sold holobooks, but none that I could find that seemed devoted to journals designed to be written in by hand. When I checked nearby antique shops, none of them mentioned having old notebooks in their inventory.

    Finally, after what felt like an hour of fruitless searching, I found a result buried fifteen pages deep for a store dedicated to selling old print books. The result did not describe the place as selling old-fashioned journals, but somehow I still felt a twinge of hope, a promise of success, when I looked at the result glowing blue on the page before me.

    The result did list the store’s comm number. Whipping my comlink out of my pocket, I tapped in the number and waited for someone to pick up the line.

    “Bound to Please print book store.” A warbling voice that somehow sounded old enough to be sold in an antique shop answered my call. “How may I help you?”

    “I was wondering if you had any journals meant to be written in by hand for sale?” I asked. It was probably an unusual question, but then again a shop specializing in print books in a galaxy that had switched to the digital holobook medium centuries ago likely got few inquiries that could be classified as normal rather than eccentric.

    “We do.” The eldery voice on the other end of the line confirmed. “Come in, and we will help you find the perfect journal for your needs.”

    That did indeed sound encouraging. I verified that the business hours and address I saw on my datapad were accurate, promised I would be at the shop as soon as I could, and offered my thanks for the information.

    Through the permaglass of my viewport, I could see that the sun was beginning to set in muja streaks over the sector of Coruscant that housed the Jedi Temple. The store where I wanted to go was three sectors away. Such a ride by airtrain would’ve taken two hours typically, but since it was rush hour in my sector of Coruscant, it could end up being three. Then there would be the shopping time and the return journey of at least two hours itself.

    Fortunately, Jedi Padawans, unlike younglings and initiates, did not have strict curfews governing when they were expected to have returned to the Temple at night. Padawans were instead relied upon to use their own discretion in deciding when it was appropriate for them to return to the Temple each night they were not on a mission.

    I could’ve borrowed a speeder from the Temple hangar, but it would take time I didn’t feel like wasting to fill out the forms necessary to do so. Besides, driving a speeder through the congested lanes of Coruscant rush hour traffic was even slower and more stressful than taking public transit.

    I would be better taking an airtrain to buy you than driving myself there in a speeder. It was one of the little ironies of living on Coruscant that it was necessary to embrace to avoid going insane on the crazy planet-sized-city.
    Kahara and WarmNyota_SweetAyesha like this.
  13. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Dooku is a piece of work. :rolleyes: It's like, scolding and pestering isn't going to help with mastery. It's going to actually have the opposite effect. :p

    Glad Qui-Gon found a store with the desired item.
    Kahara and devilinthedetails like this.
  14. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Fiendish Fanfic & SWTV Manager, Interim Tech Admin star 6 Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 19, 2019
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha As always, thank you so much for commenting!:) Dooku is definitely a piece of work, and sadly he might just continue to be a piece of work, always scolding Qui-Gon in this next chapter, because that is just what Dooku does best:pAnd Qui-Gon might just get his desired journal in this next chapter...

    Dear Diary,

    I left the Jedi Temple and made my way along the pedwalk that was teeming with beings from species who hailed from all the diverse worlds that comprised the Republic and spoke in as many different tongues. At the end of the block, I came to the nearest airtrain station.

    I entered the concourse which was packed with those checking the constantly changing arrival and departure boards, those striding briskly toward their platforms in typical harried commuter fashion, and those begging for spare credits from passerby who plainly had no time for their pleading.

    Smells of sandwiches, fried foods, sweet treats, and savory snacks wafted enticingly across the concourse, mingling with the ubiquitous caf that trailed Coruscanti commuters. I felt moved by compassion for the plight of the poor, often ignored though not invisible no matter how much some nose-lifted Coruscanti might prefer them to be, creatures who made the benches of this station their sleep couches because they had nowhere else to rest. It must be hard to be hungry, to feel one’s stomach pinching, surrounded by such smells of abundance.

    As my Master would’ve acerbically pointed out if he was here, I couldn’t help all of the hungry, but to me, that didn’t mean I couldn’t give something to one of them.

    “What would you like to eat?” I asked a man in tattered clothes, who had been eyeing the food sold from a nearby cart with a hunger that couldn’t be disguised or feigned.

    “Been awhile since I had a nerfsteak sandwich,” the man replied, looking as if he didn’t dare to hope that some stranger would be kind to him.

    I nodded. “And to drink?”

    “A fizz drink would be very refreshing,” the man answered.

    After taking his order, I went to stand on line at the cart. The line advanced quickly, hastened along by the vendor’s brusque manner and the lack of desire for small talk that defined his customers.

    “What can I get for you?” The vendor turned his sharp gaze on me as the businesswoman in front of me left clutching her large iced caf in one hand and her datapad in the other.

    I ordered nerfsteak sandwich and a large fizz drink for the hungry man I wanted to feed as well as a small hot caf and a combination of deli meat and vegetables on a bun commonly referred to as a Coruscanti Slider. The hot caf would keep me awake on my rush hour journey, and the Coruscant Slider would make up for the fact that I would miss dinner in the Temple refectory tonight.

    I handed the nerfsteak sandwich and the large fizz drink to the man, silencing Dooku’s tart voice in my head that told me I was a soft mark who could easily be taken advantage of in a city that size of a planet. Then, holding my foil-wrapped Coruscant Slider and steaming caf that warmed my palm pleasantly, I took the turbolift to my platform.

    I joined the pushing mass waiting for the airtrain to arrive. When it did arrive, precisely on schedule, I let the jostling rush carry me aboard.

    As ever at Coruscanti rush hour, the airtrain was standing room only. I claimed my sliver of standing room, juggling my food and drink so that I could grab onto a metallic rail just before a warning chime sounded, the doors shut automatically, and the airtrain surged out of the station.

    As I stood on the airtrain, I allowed my eyes to drift over this assembly of beings that the Force had brought together for a commute, letting the Force flood me with impressions of their identities and histories that so tangentially intersected with mine.

    There was the university student hunched over her physiology textbook, cramming for tomorrow’s exam that she worried she wouldn’t pass no matter how hard she worked. Her anxieties spiraled around her like a cyclone. Visions of failing her test, of being expelled from university, of being a disappointment to her parents who loved her but who always had such high expectations of her…

    There was the teenage Zabrak boy bobbing his head to the haunting rhythm of the diaspora music of his people. Thinking about how he played that music himself, taught by his father and uncle. Dreaming of sharing that music in all its beauty and pain with a broader audience. Hoping to be a great and celebrated musician one day.

    There was the lawyer staring out the viewport at the superskytowers streaming by and not seeing them because he was focused on composing the case he would argue before the court tomorrow...The petitioner who was despairing because she thought her cause was a lost one because her quest for justice would be trapped in committee hearings until the end of the universe...The man reading an adventure book and wishing he could travel instead of being bound to his home and job...The investment broker who was also a mother struggling to balance the scales of her career and her family.

    Sentient life with all its everyday triumphs and trials, its dreams and disappointments. Sentient life as it was from one spiral arm of the galaxy to the other, but feeling all the stronger and volatile on Coruscant where so much of it was jammed elbow-to-equivalent-apendage in a perennial battle for space and attention on a too-crowded, too-swiftly-moving planet that could consume anyone in its chaos and rush.

    The airtrain, like any other resident of Corucant whether sentient or mechanical, continued to speed on its journey with only minor delays that were greeted with the inevitable and expected eye rolls and grumbling from beings who had better places. At stop after stop, it discharged masses of commuters, losses that were offset by the entrance of other passengers.

    Packs of tourists boarded. Some seemed overwhelmed by the sheer scale of Coruscant and reduced almost to paralysis by its frenetic pace. Others shared pictures of monuments, statues, and skytowers they had taken on their holocams as souvenirs of their visit to the gleaming center of the Republic. Still others eagerly consulted brochures of museums they had yet to explore and tours they had yet to embark on or outlined in excited detail all the highest-rated destinations and restaurants they had experienced firsthand for themselves and were now equipped to judge.

    A mother came on with two small children clinging to each hand, and I could feel the mother worrying about her exhausted little boy and girl having a very embarrassing public meltdown...A man entered with a bouquet of roses that he was concerned might be too formal, projecting too much seriousness, for a first date...A couple boarded with their arms wrapped around one another’s waists, seeing only each other in this world with a population in the trillions, and worrying about nothing because they were so happy to be together…

    My stop approached, and I began to make my way to the exit so I would be prepared to disembark when it came to his station. Moments later, the airtrain jerked to a stop, and I exited.

    I took another turbolift up to a pedwalk and began to walk toward the address of Bound to Please.

    Bound to Please proved to have a sign that wasn’t a flashing holo one but a hand-painted one that was barely legible in the growing darkness. Stepping into the shop, I heard a faint tinkling bell that must have been meant to alert the proprietor of an arriving customer because an old man with glasses perched precariously on the brink of his nose glanced up from tucking books brown and musty with age onto a shelf that stretched to the ceiling.

    “Hello.” The old man greeted me with a scratchy, warbling voice. “Are you the young man who called to ask if we had any journals meant to be written in by hand?”

    “Yes, I am.” I smiled. “How did you guess?”

    “Well, I don’t get too many young men calling to inquire about journals to write in by hand.” The old man gave a dry chuckle and began to move behind the counter. “I’ve set aside some fetching notebooks that might do you nicely. What do you say we check them out and see if any strikes your fancy?”

    “That sounds like a great idea.” I came to stand across from the old man at the counter, watching him pull out an impressive array of notebooks in the old style. There were journals in every design and style constructed from a variety of fabrics, but I was drawn to a simple made from tan leather.

    “A simple leather one is perfect for me,” I said, picking up the journal that had caught my eye, which was you, of course, dear diary, and lifting it to my nose for a sniff. I loved the smell of leather. It was so bracing and fresh. So comforting somehow, and that is what I intend you to be, dear diary. Something to brace and comfort me as I deal with Master Dooku’s strict training.

    “An excellent choice.” The old man nodded his approval of my selection.

    I paid for you, tucked you securely into the bag the man provided because I wasn’t about to risk losing or damaging you so soon after I had gotten you, and left for my return trip to the Temple.

    Since it was no longer rush hour, the airtrain wasn’t as jammed as it had been during the first leg of my journey, but there were beings on public transit at every hour on Coruscant, and I was by no means alone during my ride.

    I could sense the story of the waitress in the seat in front of me who was heading off to work the night shift at one of Coruscant’s millions of greasy-spoon, hole-in-the-wall diners and hoping that nobody would stiff her on a tip tonight...The sad tale of the lonely spice addict in the seat diagonal, mumbling to himself as he wondered how to get his next fix...The chatting friends off to a bar for some drinking and sports-watching after a too-long day confined to boring office cubicles…

    The airtrain pulled into the station nearest the Temple, and I disembarked. Walking back to the Temple, I didn’t expect that Master Dooku would wait up for me, because he wasn’t the sort of Master to concern himself greatly over my welfare. In fact, I sometimes suspected that I could die in a ditch, and all Master Dooku would gripe about is the mess I’d made of his boots when he had to dig me out of the muck.

    However, this time, I was mistaken. Master Dooku had waited up for me in our living quarters as I discovered when I opened the door that led into them.

    “There you are.” My Master’s arms were folded across his chest as he sat in an attitude of supreme disapproval in a cushioned chair. “What sort of trouble were you getting yourself into now, my scapegrace of a Padawan?”

    “No trouble at all, Master.” I attempted an earnest, winning grin that probably only convinced my Master that I had indeed been up to something nefarious. “You know me, I never get into trouble.”

    “I know no such thing.” Master Dooku’s jaw was taut, every word emerging tightly from pursed lips. “Master Yoda wishes to speak with us at first light tomorrow morning. I suggest you get some sleep so you don’t fall asleep and embarrass yourself in front of the Grand Master of our Order. If you can manage that much without being a disappointment.”

    “I hope not to disappoint you, Master.” I bowed. “I will retire now.”

    Feeling tired in a way I hadn’t until my Master had scolded me, I took you and retreated to the sanctuary of my room where Master Dooku couldn’t disturb me.

    In the quiet of my room, I wondered what could be so urgent that Master Yoda would summon a dawn meeting with my Master and me. Perhaps I had broken some sacred Jedi rule again without realizing it and was going to be reprimanded for my unwitting transgression tomorrow...Yes, that would probably be it.

    If that was the case, I’d need all the the rest I could get, I concluded with a sigh, switching out my light and collapsing onto my sleep couch. Tucking the blankets around me, I tried to rest and not think about the reproach that likely awaited me tomorrow. It wasn’t worth worrying about a future reprimand when I should sleep now...
    Kahara likes this.
  15. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Sweet compassionate gesture buying the sandwich and drink. I enjoyed the slices of life as Qui-Gon sensed the everyday joys and worries of the other passengers.

    I'm very curious to know what the summons is all about.
    Kahara and devilinthedetails like this.
  16. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Fiendish Fanfic & SWTV Manager, Interim Tech Admin star 6 Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 19, 2019
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha As always, thank you so much for your thoughtful reviews of my work:) I definitely picture Qui-Gon as the compassionate type who would want to do what he could to help anyone in need, which was why I had him buy the sandwich and drink for the person in need. It was interesting to draw upon my own observations of commuting by train to sort of create a slice of life entry where Qui-Gon can sense the everyday worries and joys of the other passengers.

    I'm so glad that your curiosity was sparked by the summons, and in this next entry, we will learn what the summons from Yoda is all about...

    Dear Diary,

    Before I went to sleep last night, I took the extra precaution of setting not one but two alarms, one time-based alert on my comlink and the other on the alarm clock perched on my nightstand, so that I’d have less chance of oversleeping. Of switching off my alarm and not getting up at the time I needed. Of running late and proving myself woefully irresponsible and not even to be trusted with the most elemental timekeeping. Of displeasing my perennially disappointed Master again and most likely antagonizing Master Yoda as well.

    Forty-five minutes before first light, my comlink vibrated against my chest, where I had slept with it curled against me. Groggily, I fumbled for the button that turned it off. A split second later, a blare from the alarm clock on the nightstand cut through the air, ensuring that I was indeed awake. Rolling over, I flipped off the nightstand alarm as well.

    Then I rose, slid my feet into a pair of warm slippers I kept beside my bed, and padded over to the closet, where my Jedi robes hung. I pulled on a clean set of robes and then crossed the room to my mirror, where I could attempt to brush my sleep-mussed hair into some semblance of order. Since I was going to be meeting with Master Yoda too, I even went to the trouble of straightening any visible crinkles from my robes because sometimes I did care even if my Master believed I categorically didn’t.

    Those morning grooming rituals complete, I entered the small kitchenette Master Dooku and I shared in our unit. Since I had to meet Master Yoda so early, it would be faster to grab something for breakfast from our kitchenette rather than trek down to the refectory for my morning meal. Given that this meeting was scheduled to take place at such an obscene hour, I was not particularly hungry but worried that I might need all my strength to survive another scolding, so I figured that a light but nutritious breakfast was my best option.

    Opening the tiny cooler, I took out a cup of yogurt. From the fruit bowl, I snatched up a handful of fresh dewberries I washed in the sink, and from the pantry, I claimed a packet of granola. I mixed the yogurt, granola, and dewberries into a bowl before plopping into a counter seat next to the one occupied by my Master, who was tucking into two poached vapir eggs and toast slathered with Andorian jelly.

    “Morning, Master.” I nodded at him as I dipped my spoon into my yogurt concoction and began to eat.

    Master Dooku grunted an acknowledgement of my existence and the time of day but otherwise remained fixated on forking poached vapir egg into his mouth.

    Taking my cue from Master Dooku and not feeling especially loquacious at this hour anyway, I finished the remainder of my meal in silence. My breakfast done, I went to the refresher to wash my face and brush my teeth.

    In the last few minutes before dawn, my Master and I left our quarters and took a turbolift up to the level where we would meet Master Yoda in a conference room. As we made our way along the corridor lined with statues of ancient Jedi Masters known for their wisdom and serenity, I saw Tahl and her Master Melati Nur, a Mirialan with pink skin and stunning purple eyes, approaching from the opposite end of the hallway, where they must have emerged from a turbolift closer to their own quarters.

    Before our Masters herded us into the conference room, I stole an entire conversation’s worth of glances with Tahl because that was how solid our friendship was. We could have a whole conversation without saying a single word aloud, which came in handy when we were trying to communicate without our Masters noticing.

    You’ve been summoned as well? My worried and confused gaze asked, not knowing what offense that I might be guilty of that Tahl had joined me in committing.

    Yes, obviously. A slight roll of her eyes not meant to be detected by anyone else indicated that was irritated by my obtuseness. Why else would I be here before the crack of dawn? A twisted delight in my own suffering?

    I don’t know why we’re here. My eyes answered hers. Well, I know Master Yoda requested our attendance, but I don’t know why he did so.

    Guess we’re about to find out. I could hear Tahl’s dry voice echoing in our head as Master Dooku opened the door to the conference room and courteously bowed for Master Melati to proceed him into the room.

    I trailed my own Master into the room and braced myself to hear the worst from Master Yoda.

    It was a good thing I had because Master Yoda’s news proved to be very sad and grim indeed.

    “Sit down, you should.” Master Yoda’s green hand swept out to encompass the chairs at the circular wood table that dominated the room once we had offered our routine “May the Force be with you” greetings. “Grave news, I have. Heard of the planet Chenaii have any of you?”

    “No, Master.” I shook my head along with Tahl and Master Dooku. Even though it wasn’t an appropriate emotion for a Jedi Padawan, I admit that I felt a sneaking sense of satisfaction snake through me at my Master’s ignorance. It was a relief to have proof that despite his often haughty attitude, he didn’t in fact know everything. Even if he thought he did. An unworthy, disloyal, and disrespectful thought for a Padawan to have, but still one I did have.

    “Chenaii.” Master Melati tapped her lower lip above a series of symmetrical black tattoos that must have symbolized some specific accomplishment amongst her species. Mirialan tattoos always signified something, whether clan membership or achievement. “A planet in the Mid-Rim with a massive population. A major industrial powerhouse and exporter in its sector. A significant chasm exists between the living standard in its poor rural provinces and its wealthy, thriving cities that are starting to diversify their economies into services, research, and technology.”

    “Such a gap not uncommon is in the galaxy.” Yoda tapped a button and a blue holoprojection of a large terrestrial planet appeared spinning above the conference table. “Geographically speaking, still a young planet with active, often shifting tectonic plates, Chenaii is. Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions a frequent occurrence are.”

    Yoda lifted his gimmer stick to point out a region with a topographical relief that suggested a long, winding mountain range whose tallest peaks had attained sky-piercing height. “A fault line along this mountain range in the rural Goajarat province exists. Three days ago, an earthquake along this fault line ripped, killing hundreds and injuring thousands more. Destroying homes and a school where children studying were. Disrupting supply and transportation networks so the problems of providing relief compounded are.”

    I stared at the mountain range Yoda had indicated on the revolving planet projection, trying to imagine the horrible scale of death and destruction on an image that seemed so placid and unchangeable. Hundreds dead and thousands more injured. It was hard to picture those numbers just looking at a holoprojection of the planet where such suffering had occurred.

    “Providing relief efforts the Republic and planetary governments are.” Master Yoda’s eyes were wide as he lowered his gimmer cane and folded his palms over its curved top. “Requested Jedi assistance to oversee these relief efforts the Central Government of Chenaii has. Honored this request the Council has. Sending you four to preside over the relief efforts, we are. Oversee the distribution of aid supplies, help begin the first rebuilding endeavors, offer what med care and healing you can, and participate in body recovery, you will. An easy task it will not be, but an important mission it is.”

    Privately, I thought that four Jedi would never be sent on an easy mission, and that likewise the Jedi Council would never waste the time and effort of four Jedi on a mission that was anything less than important. That went without saying.

    Yet Yoda had said it. Which probably meant that the mission was extra difficult and painful. I would have to brace myself for the difficulty and pain we would doubtlessly find on earthquake-damaged Chenaii.
    Kahara and WarmNyota_SweetAyesha like this.
  17. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Cool that we get to see Tahl and Qui working together as well as snarking together. Looking forward to learning more of Master Nur. :D This seems a vital and philanthropic mission of mercy. @};-
    Kahara and devilinthedetails like this.
  18. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Fiendish Fanfic & SWTV Manager, Interim Tech Admin star 6 Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 19, 2019
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha As always, thank you so much for reading and commenting!:) I'm so glad that you find it cool to see Tahl and Qui-Gon working together as well as snarking together. I'm really looking forward to being able to write a young Qui-Gon and Tahl going on a mission with their masters. Even starting in this next chapter, we will have the opportunity to see them collaborating together. And we will also get to see more of Tahl's master as the mission progresses so that will be interesting as well, I hope. I also think you are totally right that this is a vital philanthropic mission of mercy. I do hope I can do justice to the grief and loss associated with the earthquake, but also demonstrate how the Jedi can provide help even amidst such a devastating situation. I like to imagine that the PT Jedi could offer such charity and assistance in times of crisis and natural emergency to the many worlds of the Republic.

    Dear Diary,

    Having received our mission assignment from Yoda, Master Dooku and I joined Tahl and Master Melati in trailing out of the conference room. In the hallway, we parted--Tahl and I waving briefly to each other--to take our separate turbolift banks up to our quarters to pack.

    Back in my room, packing for me entailed chucking some spare robes and any equipment that I judged might come in handy during the upcoming mission unceremoniously into my duffel bag. I wasn’t the sort of Padawan who bothered with creating or consulting a checklist of items I should bring on my journey, because I preferred more hodgepodge methods. Nor was I the type of apprentice to trouble with folding up my clothes neatly because to me that seemed an immense waste of time when the travel would inevitably wrinkle them and anyway I’d have to unroll them in order to wear them anyway. In short, my packing marked me as a “slob” to borrow Master Dooku’s pithy pronouncement on the subject.

    Since I was a far less methodical packer than Master Dooku, I finished before he did. Courteous Padawan that I am, I offered to assist him, but was curtly rebuffed by him proclaiming that he didn’t want me messing up his stuff.

    That left me with little to do but sit on the sofa in our common area, waiting for him to complete his very careful, precise packing.

    Once that was finally done, he and I stepped out into the corridor, strode down to the turbolift bank, and rode one to the hangar where we could board the ship that would transport us to Chenaii for our very important mission of providing Goajarat province with post-earthquake relief.

    Master Melati and Tahl were waiting by the entry ramp of our assigned vehicle as Master Dooku and I approached, adding more evidence to support my theory that no Jedi was a slower packer than my esteemed Master.

    “Took you two long enough to arrive.” Tahl gave me a teasing nudge as we trailed our Masters up the entry ramp into our appointed vessel. “Master Melati and I were debating whether we ought to leave you two space snails behind.”

    “It wasn’t my packing that slowed us down.” I returned her nudge with a gentle elbow to the ribs. “I’m a very efficient packer, I’ll have you know.”

    “That’s only because you throw everything whilly-nilly into your duffel bag and don’t care about the proper order of anything.” Tahl tossed her head back, her Padawan braid falling over her shoulder, and giggled.

    “And you don’t?” I arched an eyebrow at her, unable to hide a sheepish grin at her astute observation of my packing habits.

    “No.” Tahl’s haughty tone was somewhat undermined by the pink, darting flash of her tongue flicking out at me before disappearing between her lips again. “I’m a very tidy packer, I’ll have you know.”

    I recognized the echo, the witty repartee and rephrasing of my earlier remark to her about me being an efficient packer, and chuckled happily at the cutting keenness of her wit that I always appreciated even when it irked me.

    Inside the ship, our joint exploration uncovered a tiny cockpit with a pilot and co-pilot’s chair, two small sleeping quarters with a pair of narrow bunks each, a galley that contained frozen package food and a tetrawave to heat it, and a common area that was too cramped and filled with hard rather than comfortable furniture to be referred to as a lounge.

    Master Dooku and I placed our bags on the bunks in one small sleeping room, while Master Melati and Tahl did their same in the other sleeping area.

    Masters Dooku and Melati claimed the pilot and co-pilot’s chair to fly us out of Corusant’s atmosphere and enter the coordinates into the navcomputer that would take us to Chenaii. Before he disappeared into the cockpit along with Master Melati, Master Dooku brusquely ordered Tahl and I to begin researching the situation we would encounter on Chenaii on our datapads.

    Tahl and I retreated to the common area, pulled out our laptops, and set up a makeshift research station at a hard wooden table with even harder wooden chairs. Signing into my datapad, I was pleased to discover that Master Yoda must have requested that Jedi Archivist Jocasta Nu send us resources that might help us in our mission to Chenaii, because there was a large file containing links to news articles, news videos, encyclopedias, and other academic sources awaiting me on my screen. No doubt the same file was staring at Tahl from her datapad screen.

    Arbitrarily diving into a news article on the school destroyed by the earthquake from the myriad of sources available to me on my datapad in the vague, perhaps Force-driven hope that it might prove insightful, I found my heart immediately ripping at the pictures of the broken school and the motionless, shattered bodies of small children surrounding it.

    I had to blink tears away from my eyes before I could read sentences that only added to my heartbreak. Many of the children at the school, I learned from the article, were the sons and daughters of migrant workers who labored in factories of Chenaii’s industrial cities who could only return to the rural villages to see their offspring a few times a year on holidays. Parents who had left for the bright lights of the cities to try to provide a better future for their children, who, according to the article, were often consigned to the care of eldery grandparents who tilled and toiled on the rocky soil of the harsh mountain landscape.

    “Most of the children in the school were the sons and daughters of migrant workers who only got to see them a handful of times a year because they were so busy trying to earn better opportunities and lives for their children.” I felt my lip tremble as I tried to describe to Tahl the import and weight of my latest heart-breaking revelation of how devastating the earthquake in Goajarat had been for the rural communities it had left in ruins. “They were largely being raised by their grandparents. Their lives would’ve been so short and harsh, and they would’ve died having not seen their parents for a long time.”

    The universe could be so cold and cruel sometimes. Or maybe it wasn’t the universe itself that was cold and cruel. Perhaps it was sentient beings who made the universe cold and cruel by their lack of compassion for one another. Their inability to empathize and resonate with the suffering of others. I felt a headache coming on as I began to contemplate such unanswerable mysteries.

    “It’s all very tragic.” Tahl was biting her lip as if to prevent all her grief from spilling out of her. “Made even more tragic by Chenaii’s strict One Child Policy I would say.”

    “One Child Policy?” I repeated, gaping at her like a fish caught out of the water that was its natural habitat. “What’s that?”

    “An effort to control Chenaii’s exponential population growth.” Tahl’s voice was matter-of-fact but I could hear the pain behind it, the pain that reflected my own. “Married couples on Chenaii are only permitted to have one child by decree of the Central Government, and unmarried couples are prohibited from having any children at all. Any out of policy children incur a heavy fine of four or five times their family’s income that must be paid by their parents. If their parents are unable to pay the fine, their children will not be formally registered by the Central Government. Any children not registered with the Central Government will be barred from attending schools, banned from any future employment on the planet, and ineligible to receive any governmental assistance or protection at any point in their lives.”

    “So,” I picked up the threads of where Tahl’s words were leading and tied them together with a sinking, horrified feeling in my chest, “most of the children killed when the school collapsed would’ve been only children.”

    I couldn’t imagine the agony the grandparents and parents of these only children when these dead only children were discovered amid the wreckage of the destroyed school. Their overwhelming sense of loss at the realization that the embodiment of the bright future they were laboring so tirelessly to achieve had been ruthlessly snuffed out by an earthquake.

    “Right in one.” Tahl gave a bleak, grim nod. “And it’s worse even than that.”

    “What could be worse than that?” I asked through the raspiness in my throat. Even though my heart didn’t want to know, my mind understood that I had to be a brave Jedi and learn these painful truths so that I could better serve the people of Goajarat province in the reeling aftermath of an earthquake.

    “The social support network for the elderly on Chenaii can best be described as meager and primitive.” Tahl pointed at the relevant passage in an encyclopedia article she had drawn up on her datapad. “Throughout history, adult children have been the retirement plan for their aging parents and grandparents. Before the imposition of the One Child Policy, this did not pose much of an issue, as families on Chenaii were large, and the burden of supporting aging parents and grandparents could be divided among many adult siblings. However, with the One Child Policy, a single adult child is placed in the difficult position of supporting two aging parents and four elderly parents who are dependent on that adult child given the lack of a government funded retirement.”

    “That means the parents and grandparents who lost children when the school collapsed also have to deal with the loss of the being who would have been their provider and comforter in their old age.” I felt as if my heart would never stop breaking for the people of Goajarat, both those who had died in the earthquake, and those who had been left behind to grieve in the wake of its devastating waves. “Their whole world--their lives and their futures--would seem to end with the loss of those precious children.”

    I’d once read in a reflection by a long-returned-to-the-Force Jedi Master that each life was a world so that when a single life was saved, it was as if an entire world had been saved, and when a single being died, it was as if an entire world had faded from existence. Never had those words rang with such a tragic truth to me.
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2021
    Kahara and WarmNyota_SweetAyesha like this.
  19. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Devastating facts on a societal and personal scale =D= :(
    Kahara and devilinthedetails like this.
  20. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Fiendish Fanfic & SWTV Manager, Interim Tech Admin star 6 Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 19, 2019
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha As always, thank you so much for reading and commenting![:D] I really wanted to begin to convey the devastation of the earthquake on both a personal and societal scale in this chapter. I believe that this next chapter might continue to do that, but eventually some of the grieving should hopefully be mingled with some signs of hope and recovery as well as just sorrow and disaster.

    Dear Diary,

    “Identify yourselves.” The air traffic control officer from Imapur, the closest urban area of any size and significance to our destination of Goajarat province, sounded bored and not at all as if a cataclysm had recently rocked her planet in the form of an earthquake. Then again, the epicenter of the earthquake had been thousands of kilometers from her, and likely only felt as a distant tremor in the ground.

    One that might have shaken delicate objects from shelves but otherwise would have only played out as images on the holonews that could be easily disassociated from and ignored as a tragedy that didn’t impact her in the slightest. A disaster for unfortunate others, but not for her. Beings so often failed to realize how the Living Force connected them to all other lifeforms across the galaxy, I thought. Perhaps because they couldn’t sense the Living Force that knit them together as I did, or maybe that musing was nothing more than shallow puffery and pride on my part, and I could use a good deflating of my ego as Tahl would phrase it if she were in the cockpit with Master Dooku and me.

    “We’re the Jedi sent to assist with the earthquake recovery effort.” Master Dooku’s reply was clipped as he gestured for me to transmit the authorization code from the Temple that was supposed to give us Jedi blanket permission and clearance from the Senate to land on any Republic planet without opposition. That was the theory, anyway. It wasn’t always the practice. Sometimes governments were hostile to the authority of the Senate as well as to the peace and justice we Jedi strove to bring everywhere we traveled, but, in this case, the planetary and local governments had sought Jedi aid in recovering from the earthquake so I had trouble imagining us encountering much resistance. Likely that meant I needed to develop a more vivid imagination or a more honed sense of cynicism.

    “Your authorization code checks out.” The air traffic control officer’s answer had a dull, tired quality as if she had recited this information too many times to count over the past hours she was on duty during this crisis. “You’ll have to fly into Ranaji village--it’s a rural backwater like everywhere else in that poor region, but at least one where there’s an airstrip for supplies to be flown in after a disaster. I’ll transmit the airstrip coordinates to your vessel now.”

    As good as her word, the air traffic control officer sent the coordinates for the Ranaji village airstrip to our navicomputer. As we flew to our destination, I could see Goajarat arrayed below me in all its broken glory. The raging rivers that carved great gray gorges through the landscape, and the towering, snow-tipped mountain ranges from which those raging rivers flowed. The fertile green basins that marked the territories through which the rivers streamed more gently. And, most horribly, the garish rend in the ground, the scar that marred the province’s breathtaking beauty. The place where two tectonic plates had waged a war for domination and inflicted so much death and destruction on the land and its hapless inhabitants.

    We reached the Ranaji airstrip at the promised coordinates. The airstrip was clear for our landing when we arrived, and Master Dooku brought the ship in for a smooth touchdown on the surface of the airstrip that I thought could only be described in the most optimistic terms as makedo. In the most pessimistic terms, it would doubtlessly be defined as another disaster waiting to happen, but it rarely paid to be pessimistic on missions in my experience. Things were challenging enough without expressing them in their harshest definition.

    “We’ve arrived,” Master Dooku announced curtly into the ship’s intercom as if Tahl or Master Melati could’ve failed to notice the distinct sensation of a vessel swooping in for a landing.

    Together, Master Dooku and I completed the landing procedures in the cockpit, and then headed down the ship’s narrow corridor to collect our baggage from our sleeping quarters. Then we met Tahl and Master Melati at the ramp, where they were waiting for us with their duffels slung over their shoulders, to depart as one unit.

    Four besuited men and three women in long skirts and stiff-buttoned blouses stepped forward to greet us as we stepped off our craft.

    “I am Akash Dhawan, the chairman of our local committee of the Chenaii People’s Party.” Chairman Dhawan bowed, palms pressed against his thighs, and we Jedi returned the gesture in kind. “On behalf of everyone in the community, I welcome the Jedi and apologize for the squalor of the surroundings…”

    I found my focus seized by an unloading effort underway at a larger vessel that must have landed before them. Weary locals and sweat-soaked Republic relief workers were carrying supplies from the vessel into rundown speeders that seemed taxed to the cusp of collapse with burdens that appeared destined for the region’s overwhelmed hospitals and hastily erected hospital tents. Bundles of blankets. Medkits. Bacta and other healing medicines and painkillers.

    I wished I could be carrying those burdens to the speeders because it would be helping in some tangible way instead of standing here listening to a local politician apologize for his area that had just been hit by an earthquake appearing to be in shambles.

    “The roads are all a mess.” One of the women--I thought I had heard Chairman Dhawan introduce her as Indrani Agarwal while my attention was mostly fixated on the unloading efforts occurring adjacent to us because even a distracted mind was a wonderful, powerful thing with mysteries beyond my comprehension--flicked a scornful hand at the dusty, unpaved village streets behind us. “The people insist on mourning the lost by releasing fireworks every night as if that does anything but dirty the streets and risk dislodging more rubble.”

    The contempt she had for the citizens she supposedly served should’ve shocked me, but it didn’t. Perhaps Dooku’s frequent lessons on the corruption of politicians had taken deeper root inside me than I realized.

    I could indeed see that the village streets were speckled with red. Red.The color of freshly spilled blood. Not the blood of those who had been injured and killed in Ranaji when the earthquake tore through the once solid ground beneath their feet, upending their entire lives, and in some sad cases, ending their lives completely. That blood would have soaked into the dust and dirt of the street. That blood would have turned a rusty, oxidized brown. Brown. The color of rot and decay in a rural village of a poor province far from anywhere that could be considered relevant by galactic standards.

    A horn blared through the air, echoing across the rattled and fallen structures of the village, and another one of the woman--I believed her name was Kavita Laghari--groaned. “Another trainful of migrant workers has returned from Imapur. Soon the earth will shake again with their incessant keening. As if all the wailing in the universe could turn back time and restore the dead to life!”

    Her scoffing, her callousness, stunned me, and I swallowed a swelling lump in my throat as I recognized callousness was the perfect word to describe her demeanor. Calloused. Hardened by suffering to the point of being indifferent and impervious to pain.

    Unlike her, I wasn’t calloused or indifferent and impervious to suffering, and my heart broke for the grieving as mourning keens began to cut across the village to the airstrip.
    Kahara likes this.
  21. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Superb details of the devastation and his reactions to the political types. :p
    Kahara and devilinthedetails like this.
  22. Seldes_Katne

    Seldes_Katne Force Ghost star 3

    Mar 18, 2002
    I’m really enjoying this story – the canon characters’ voices are spot on (this sounds exactly like Count Dooku in the movies) and the Jedi Apprentice characters fit what I remember of the books. (Yeah, okay, it’s been a while, but still….)

    You’ve got a good set-up here – Qui-Gon’s Master is making his Apprentice’s life more difficult than it needs to be, and Qui-Gon needs someone to “listen” to his private thoughts, so he acquires a journal. Makes sense, and a good way to get inside a character’s head.

    At best, Qui-Gon, you and your Master are mismatched; at worst, Dooku is a straight-up child abuser and should not be allowed to train a young person at all. Apparently the GFFA, or at least the Jedi Order, has even less of a handle on mental and emotional health than we do here on Earth. I’m surprised you turned out as emotionally stable as you did.

    I love the entire concept of this room. Everyone should have access to a place like this.

    I think it was one of the High Republic novels where a character comments that no one hand-writes anything anymore (which I suspect might be mostly true in the Republic, but probably not out it, where people lack access to the sophisticated technology of screens and pads). There is something to be said for doing certain tasks by hand; writing helps get ideas out of one’s mind and onto a paper (or in a file) where one can achieve some emotional distance.

    Yup. This guy is straight out of the Victorian era, with their belief that children are just tiny adults. Why does he even have a Padawan? And didn’t he spend any time watching Qui-Gon before choosing him?

    [face_laugh] Good observation.

    Love the store name….

    I don’t know if you’re familiar with “the starfish story,” but this reminds me of it. (In the story, a person finds a beach littered with dying starfish the morning after a powerful storm. Moved with pity, he runs to the closest starfish, picks it up, and throws it back into the ocean. He picks up the next one, but his companion tells him to stop. There are so many starfish, he can’t possibly make a difference. The man points to the starfish he just threw back, and replies, “I made a difference to that one.”)

    I think this (and the following paragraphs) beautifully illustrates Qui-Gon’s character and his ability to empathize with those around him. He actually thinks to do this, and has a natural connection to others. This will later manifest in his ability to treat Jar Jar Binks like an actual person, instead of as a nuisance.

    Very Jedi choice, as well – simple and practical.

    You don’t happen to know how Qui-Gon keeps the slippers warm, by any chance? That would be a handy skill to have during the winter in these parts….

    I’m guessing it’s blue? ;)

    The description of the social and family situation on Chenaii is painful to read. I can only imagine how much more difficult it will be for Qui-Gon to get through this mission, given his ability to connect with people through the Living Force.

    Looking forward to the rest of this story!